Chile detains Israeli tourist in major forest fire

AP News
Posted: Dec 31, 2011 8:24 PM
Chile detains Israeli tourist in major forest fire

A 23-year-old Israeli tourist has been detained on suspicion of causing a forest fire that has burned more than 42 square miles (11,000 hectares) in Chile's Torres de Paine national park, authorities announced Saturday.

Regional prosecutor Juan Melendez identified the person as Roter Singer, though Israel Radio later gave the first name is Rotem. Melendez said the man had acknowledged a part in negligently allowing the fire to start.

More than 560 firefighters have been trying to contain the fire, which forced the evacuation of 400 tourists, most of them foreigners. About 150,000 people each year visit the 925-square-mile (240,000-hectare) park in far-southern Chile.

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Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said an easing of winds was helping firefighters on Saturday, but conditions were expected to worsen Sunday and Monday. The government declared a state of emergency for the region on Friday.